[AP Photo / Stephen B. Morton]
Do you ever wonder how an NFL kicker prepares for a new season? Or how he handles high pressure moments or what his off-season training regime looks like? That's exactly what we learn from Josh Lambo of the Jacksonville Jaguars. Read more below to learn more about the NFL kicker in the latest addition of the Myles Journal.
You started out your career as a soccer goalkeeper. What was it like transitioning to football? Were there any surprising challenges or anything that was surprisingly easy?
I started out my soccer career as a goalie because I was the short, chubby kid that couldn’t run. So when I finally grew vertically rather than horizontally, I took up half the goal and stayed there, thankfully—I love exercising and being active, but running isn’t really my thing. So when I transitioned to football and became the kicker, I thought to myself, “Two steps and swing? I can get on board with that.”The biggest challenges crossing over sports was obviously the shape of the ball, playing in pads and a helmet, and having several men much larger than you sprinting toward you to take your head off.
With the ball difference, I would undercut the ball a lot because the sweet spot on a soccer ball is much lower to the ground than a football, so that took some getting used to. In the long run, though, it has really helped my ball flight—having a bit of a hybrid between a true soccer swing and a kicker swing. Other than that, it was a pretty casual switch between sports.
How do you prepare for a new NFL season?
I prepare for a new NFL season by acting I’m still in the middle of one. I don’t really take any time off from the gym (something Adam Vinatieri suggested to me). I do a lot of visualization work on a football field without a ball, and I do a lot of Pilates. I think the Pilates was a huge difference for me this offseason in keeping my body right for preseason. It really helped build up my supporting muscles so that when I used my larger muscles in the gym or on the field, everything was healthy and firing away.
What does your off-season training regimen look like? What kind of cross training do you do?
For most of the offseason I’ll be in the gym four times a week and in the Pilates studio three times. I get my larger muscle group work done in the gym as well as cardio, and then I’ll get my core and auxiliary work done at pilates. My core has never been stronger than it is now and I 100% credit that to my pilates instructor, Jared Patterson.
I don’t like to do much “cross training” because I’m slightly afraid of injury. My body is very tuned into my doing my specific movements for kicking and I don’t want to mess with it. For example, I don’t go out and play pick-up soccer games because the swing is different for soccer and football, and because I played soccer for so much longer than football I always revert back to my soccer swing. I’d love to go out and be more adventurous with my exercises and activities, but most of that will need to wait until after football.
Do you have any routines or superstitions before, during, or after games?
I’m big on routines, not on superstitions. I think superstitions leave the result up to something other than yourself and I don’t believe in that. I work too hard and am too specific with my craft to allow whether or not I’ll make a kick to be decided by if I put on my left shoe before my right or because I listened to a playlist out of order during my pregame warmup.
I do a lot of body prep work the night before games—Epsom salt bath, using the Hyperice HyperVolt (deep tissue massage tool) to massage my muscles—then I’ll stretch using a stretch band. Next, I’ll hot and cold contrast my right adductor. Lastly, I put on compression stockings to make sure I keep blood circulation going during my sleep.
On game day, I do a pre-warmup visualization session. I’ll go out on the field, take my field goal steps and kickoff steps and see myself making perfect contact and watching the ball go either through the uprights or landing exactly where I want it to on kickoffs.
Is there anything you do mentally to prepare for high-pressure moments? Can you walk us through your thought process leading up to a big kick?
For pressure moments I just try not to allow the pressure to get to me. I don’t think anything differently, tell myself how important this kick is, or allow people to act differently around me. If it’s a game-winner, I have our staff form a barrier around me to keep my teammates and coaches away, because if it’s a 52-yard kick in the middle of the second quarter, no one is coming up to me and pumping me up, so I don’t want them to if it’s a 38-yard game-winner. When things are different, that’s when mistakes are made. At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter what the clock says or what the score is, there will be a snap, a hold, and a kick that needs to go through the uprights. The situation is always the same to me.
What was the biggest field goal of your career?
My career long is 56 yards, but the two biggest kicks of my career came this past postseason. I hit a 45-yard field goal away against the Steelers to clinch us going through to the AFC Championship game, and then in that next game against the Patriots, I hit a 54-yard field goal to start off the second half. Unfortunately we lost that game, but I think I’m only the second or third player to hit a 50-plus yard kick in the postseason at that stadium, one of the only people to hit a 50-plus yard kick in the AFC Championship game, and it was a franchise record for longest postseason field goal for the Jaguars.
Speaking of performing on the road, Do you have any hacks you use when traveling?
When I travel I make sure I have some movies loaded up on my iPad. I have my noise-canceling headphones and all of my equipment I use the night before games. Other than that, I can live without something if I forget it.
What are some things you do to keep yourself busy on the road?
I try to read mindfulness books, keep up with my favorite shows and movies, and catch up with friends and family. I use the time on the bus or plane to make sure I’m keeping up with my relationships and friendships because otherwise they can get lost in the craziness of the regular season.
What's your favorite city to visit during the NFL season and why?
My favorite city to visit might be Minneapolis or Indianapolis. I love both cities and they are close to family and friends, so I usually get to see some folks I don’t normally see during the season.